Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr has announced that 345 proposals in 37 states have been selected to receive a total of $18.2 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

"These funds will help create economic opportunity and reduce energy costs for farmers, ranchers and small businesses in rural communities," Dorr said. "Our renewable energy programs have a significant impact on creating jobs and investment opportunities and maintaining financially viable communities."

The grant and loan guarantee/grant combinations are being awarded through USDA's Section 9006 Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program. It provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy generation systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Of the $18.2 million total, $13.4 million are grants and $4.8 million are guaranteed loans.

In Orangeville, Ill., for example, USDA Rural Development selected James Briggs for a $12,375 grant to help him replace a 20-year-old grain dryer with a new continuous flow dryer that is expected to reduce annual energy costs by 53 percent.

Healy Biodiesel, Inc., Sedgwick, Kan., was selected to receive a $32,375 grant to purchase and install biodiesel processors and equipment to create a biodiesel facility that is expected to produce an estimated 150,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel per year.

The S&D Farm Wind Turbine Project, Lisbon, Conn., was selected to receive a $49,751 grant to purchase and install a 50 kilowatt wind turbine to produce electricity and save energy costs. The project is expected to save an estimated $12,740 in annual energy costs.

Funding of individual recipients will be contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant/loan guarantee agreement. A complete list of the selected recipients is posted on the USDA Rural Development web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested more than $76.8 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 1.5 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments.

Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.